Monday, April 27, 2009

And it was a kind of surprise when mates of his he had not seen in yonks had heard the radio interview and showed up at The Donkey: Phil Croxford, Allen Jones, Romeo Challenger. Bendy Alex hadn’t remembered meeting me (when I was blonde, sporting a short, punky haircut and much younger) until I reminded him that he had framed a portrait of The Mister I had done for his parents. He remembered that. Many more familiar faces appeared. The Howard Road gang turned out. Our mellow trumpet-playing friend “Uncle” Stanley greeted us with an expansive grin; calling me his American friend—his only American friend. His son Drew was there, a saxophonist extraordinaire who now tours with The Specials, recently re-formed. We had the pleasure of seeing Drew last year back home at Otto’s Shrunken Head, a hole-in-the-wall dive on East 14th Street, where his ska band, El Pussycat, brought the house down and showed New York musos how it’s done. He would appear with The Specials on the Jools Holland Show the following evening in London. Among our friends it was as if there had been no time between the last time, a couple of years ago. Characters in the audience, like the vociferous woman with the enchanting sobriquet of “Liverpool Annie” added to the colorful palette. John Butler from Diesel Park West—the band that very nearly made it—was there. I suspect his presence was more down to making sure that The Mister, who would be opening for him and Rick Wilson at The Musician the following night, wasn’t a complete wanker onstage. The Mister did not disappoint and jet lag notwithstanding, he rocked.

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